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Archive for the ‘Logic’ Category

Michael Dummett, perhaps one of the most influential Anglo-American philosophers of the last half of the 20th century, died on December 27th, 2011. I would have posted earlier had I been aware, but Dummett’s death only recently caught my attention. Personally, Dummett’s work on intuitionistic logic and verificationism have greatly influenced my own thoughts on logic and epistemology and, ironically, despite his verificationism, Dummett was also a practicing Roman Catholic.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Dummett’s work, here is an informative discussion given by Graham Priest, who last year permitted the FSPB to interview him, and Alan Saunders, the host of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s programme The Philosopher’s Zone.

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I found segments on youtube of Derek Jarman’s 1989 film “Wittgenstein.” The rest can be found on youtube. Enjoy!

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The logician and philosopher of science Neil Tennant’s piece entitled ‘What might logic and methodology have offered the Dover School Board, had they been willing to listen?’ Read it here in the articles section.

P.S. Tennant (appropriately) takes Larry Laudan to task for the latter’s position on the scientific nature of creationism, which he (Laudan) expressed in a 1982 paper highlighted recently in a post on the blog. 

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Before continuing, I should offer the following caveat. What is to follow is a very rough draft of a paper I threw together. The paper was inspired by another I authored on a similar theme for a PoS class. The following neglects many details and instead provides for a rough outline of a larger, much closer analyzed and ambitious paper I suspect I will write in the near future. So, this post is but an approximation of what is to come. Nevertheless, if the post engenders discussion on any topics pertaining to quantum mechanics, scientific methodology, philosophy of science, verificationism, logical positivism, whatever, and attracts critical first assessments, then it will have served its purpose.

Logical Positivism and the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

“The rise of quantum theory in the years 1900 to 1927 is surely one of the major advances in the history of science- perhaps even one of the greatest intellectual advances ever made by mankind” (Hund 1974, p. 5). The mathematical formulation of modern quantum mechanics consists of a complete and logically consistent framework of mathematical deductions (see, for instance, von Neumann 1955). However, an ordered series of mathematical deductions, no matter how complete or logically consistent, is not a physical theory. In order to obtain the status of a physical theory, the mathematical formalism or, more precisely, the mathematical representations, must be assigned certain, specifiable experimental conditions so as to allow for the determination of measurement procedures which may aid in the confirmation and disconfirmation of hypotheses and in the identification of new and fruitful avenues of investigation. Of course, the experimental data produced by the measurement procedures necessitate interpretation, and that interpretation will run up through the mathematical structure resulting in our view of the theory and its overall implications for our system of the world.

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Should students have to learn mathematics in school? A parody of the answers various Miss USA contestants gave to the question: Should students have to learn evolution in school? I agree with many of the Miss USA contestants. We should teach students both sides of the homeopathy and chemistry debate, too. I mean, like, students should have the opportunity and stuff to decide for themselves if homeopathy is true for them. I mean, like, isn’t logic culturally determined anyways and stuff?

From the blog Logic and Rational Interaction: The new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy has initiated an iTunes channel with videocasts of lectures presented at the Center. Here is the description of the Munich Center from the iTunes channel:

Mathematical Philosophy – the application of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy – is about to experience a tremendous boom in various areas of philosophy. At the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, which is funded mostly by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, philosophical research will be carried out mathematically, that is, by means of methods that are very close to those used by the scientists. The purpose of doing philosophy in this way is not to reduce philosophy to mathematics or to natural science in any sense; rather mathematics is applied in order to derive philosophical conclusions from philosophical assumptions, just as in physics mathematical methods are used to derive physical predictions from physical laws. Nor is the idea of mathematical philosophy to dismiss any of the ancient questions of philosophy as irrelevant or senseless: although modern mathematical philosophy owes a lot to the heritage of the Vienna and Berlin Circles of Logical Empiricism, unlike the Logical Empiricists most mathematical philosophers today are driven by the same traditional questions about truth, knowledge, rationality, the nature of objects, morality, and the like, which were driving the classical philosophers, and no area of traditional philosophy is taken to be intrinsically misguided or confused anymore. It is just that some of the traditional questions of philosophy can be made much clearer and much more precise in logical-mathematical terms, for some of these questions answers can be given by means of mathematical proofs or models, and on this basis new and more concrete philosophical questions emerge. This may then lead to philosophical progress, and ultimately that is the goal of the Center.

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Patricia Churchland discusses eliminative materialism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzT0jHJdq7Q

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SCENE: BEDROOM IN AN AUSTRIAN MANSION, c.1937

GRETEL: I don’t like his manner.

KURT: His attitude worries me.

LISEL: I am troubled by a general air of foreboding.

MARIA: Yes, children: my life is also, on occasion, clouded by manners, attitudes and airs of foreboding.

BRIGITA: So what do you do about it?

MARIA: Why, I simply think of nominalistically respectable things instead.

VON TRAPP CHILDREN (together): Nominalistically respectable things? What are they?

MARIA: Well, let me explain …

Properties, counterparts, tropes and relations,
Promises, lies and confused explanations,
Numbers and rhomboids, and this very list:
These are all items which do not exist.

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